With all eyes on the framework agreement for a nuclear deal with Iran, and on the looming Capitol Hill battle to defend it, it is easy to forget that Israel is still in the process of forming its new government. With much of the drama playing out offstage, many observers are sitting back and waiting for the political wrangling over ministries and Knesset committee chairs to be over.
But some are making the case that there is more brewing than the doling out of prestige appointments to the leaders of the parties expected to be part of the fourth Benjamin Netanyahu government. A unity government, at one time thoroughly rejected by both Netanyahu and Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog, has emerged again as at least a theoretical possibility. Read more at the FMEP blog.
You know who could lead Labor to not only a victory of most Knesset seats, but perhaps even a liberal revival in Israel and a governing coalition without the right? Not Herzog, not Livni, certainly not Yachimovich, and not, as much as I admire her, Zehava Galon. It is Stav Shafir who can do that. I paste below a brief exchange between Shaffir and Benjamin Netanyahu on Twitter a short while ago. English translation follows the Hebrew (and it’s my translation, so forgive any flaws, please).
כשאנחנו מדברים על מחירי הדיור, על יוקר המחייה, אני לרגע לא שוכח את החיים עצמם. האתגר הגדול ביותר לחיינו כעת הוא התחמשות איראן בנשק גרעיני
@netanyahu שש שנים ומסר אחד יש לך לבני ובנות הדור שלי: תגידו תודה שאתם בחיים ותשתקו. מצטערת, ביבי, החיים שלנו שווים הרבה יותר מהתירוצים האלה
האתגרים של אזרחי ישראל הם רבים. אי אפשר להפריד בין האתגר הבטחוני לאתגרי היום יום שהולכים ומתרבים. זה היה התפקיד שלך לפתור, ונכשלת
Netanyahu: When we speak about housing prices, on the cost of living, I do not forget for one minute the lives themselves. The greatest challenge to our lives right now is a nuclear Iran.
Shaffir: Six years, and you have only one message to the sons and daughters of my generation: Say “thank you” that you are alive and shut up. Sorry, Bibi, our lives are worth a lot more than these excuses. There are a great many challenges for the citizens of Israel. It is impossible to separate the security challenge and the everyday challenges that are multiplying. This was YOUR problem to solve, and you failed.
Mitchell Plitnick: And that’s why I am so very impressed with Stav Shaffir.
The obsession in politics and diplomacy with decorum–largely a relic from the past–can easily distract people from the realities of the present. Case in point, the uproar over Jeffrey Goldberg’s latest article in the Atlantic, the headline of which, The Crisis in U.S.-Israel Relations Is Officially Here, would seem important enough to warrant more attention than it has gotten so far.
Instead, the whisper of an unnamed “senior Obama administration official,” who called Netanyahu a “chickenshit,” has occupied headlines. And instead of taking a strong, or even a weak stance on Netanyahu’s repeated declarations about expanding settlement activity everywhere in Jerusalem and the West Bank, the White House has only tried to distance itself from the remark, describing it as “unauthorized” and “inappropriate.” Read more at LobeLog
After Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stirred up some controversy by terming Israel’s recent bombardment of Gaza a “war of genocide” at the UN General Assembly last week, there was some speculation that the Israeli prime minister would come in breathing fire. But all Benjamin Netanyahu presented in his Monday address was the same old smoke.
Netanyahu was expected to rail against the Palestinian Authority leader, but he merely said he was “refuting” Abbas’ “lies” and instead focused on bringing his two favorite themes together: the Islamic State (IS) and Hamas are the same thing, and Iran is trying to fool the world with a moderate president while trying to acquiring a nuclear weapon. Read more at Lobelog
Today, I’m asking my readers to please support the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The group has been working hard on some new legislation and it’s really important to help get this bill to the floor of the Senate and the House. Read more at LobeLog
AIPAC and the Republican Party are pushing Israel, as a domestic U.S. issue, ever further right. No doubt, Congressional Democrats will try to keep up, but it will be harder and harder for them to balance that sort of stance with their constituencies. The latest episode occurred yesterday in the Senate where a GOP Senator, with AIPAC’s support, tried to attach an amendment to a pro-Israel bill that would have made a deal with Iran more complicated. So, the Democratic chair of the Foreign Relations Committee pulled the bill from the agenda. I explore further today at LobeLog.
My latest at LobeLog reviewing John Kerry’s recent testimony before Congress and the ripples on the Israeli right in response to the collapse of the talks, at least for now.
Also, Dimi Reider has a piece up at 972 Magazine which goes well with mine.